A standing-room-only crowd bid $1,953 average on 287 Show-Me-Select bred heifers at Kingsville Livestock Auction.
The 93 lots of spring-calving heifers came from 17 consignors enrolled in a University of Missouri Extension educational program to improve beef herds.
The top-selling lot went for $2,550 average for four Simmental crossbred commercial heifers bred to calve March 2. They were consigned by Crooks Farm of Leeton, Mo. They sold 49 head, the largest consignment, for an average of $2,219.
The second-highest price of $2,500 went to two lots. One from Crooks Farms included four Simmental heifers. The other, from Springhaven Farms, Ken and Correlia Anderson, Belton, Mo., was a pen of two registered Angus heifers.
Crooks Farms, owned by Alvin and Doug Crooks and Howard Early, has sold heifers in all 14 sales at Kingsville. The Andersons, longtime registered breeders, were first-time consignors. Their sale average was $2,194.
Those highest-selling heifers were bred by fixed-time artificial insemination (AI) to proven sires.
Average premium for AI-bred heifers in this sale was $259 above prices for natural-service, bull-bred heifers. In the past, AI premiums run about $100 across the state.
In the sale, 62 percent were bred AI while 38 percent were bull-bred.
Consignors with sale averages above $2,000 were Jonathan Renfro, Richmond, Mo., $2,190; John Wheeler, Marionville, Mo., $2,058; Jerry Gordon, Windsor, Mo., $2,041; and Mark Nuelle, Higginsville, Mo., $2,012.
Buyer James Grainger, Centerview, Mo., bought 67 heifers, the most of all.
AI breeding allows use of best sires in a breed. When bred by appointment, all females in a herd can be bred the same day. That results in uniform calf crops. It also reduces labor, reducing length of calving season for cow-herd owners.
By using ultrasound to confirm pregnancies within 90 days after insemination, calving dates can be given buyers.
The sale catalog lists records of sires and projected calving dates. Sale prices are based not just on how the heifers look, but on the data in the catalog.
Originally, the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer program started to add genetics to improve calving ease in cow herds. Now the program includes genetics for growth rates and quality grades of beef.
SMS has become the source of calves for an MU program started this year: Quality Beef by the Numbers.
QB allows producers to gain premium prices for quality grades at the packing plant after feeding steers for market.
The SMS heifer program, a year-round educational program, covers genetics, nutrition, breeding management and health. More producers use fixed-time AI to reduce labor and improve uniformity and quality of calves.
Heifers offered in the sale are guaranteed bred on sale day and for 30 days. They were pregnancy-checked within 30 days of the sale. Cooperating veterinarians also give pre-breeding exams.
Heifers are examined upon arrival at the sale barn to verify body condition and SMS standards by graders from USDA and Missouri Department of Agriculture.
Follow-up surveys show buyers like known calving dates. A notice in the sale catalog urges buyers to start checking ahead of the due date. Calving-ease heifers tend to calve early.
The combination of exam and use of calving-ease sires has greatly reduced death loss at calving time.
Producers can enroll in Show-Me-Select or the QB program by contacting regional MU Extension livestock specialists though county offices.
Coming SMS bred heifer sales:
Dec. 8, 12:30 p.m., F&T Livestock Market, Palmyra, Mo. Daniel Mallory, 573-985-3911
Source: University of Missouri Extension